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Politeness Matters at Immigration Checkpoints

See transcript of the above video below:

As the title of this video suggests, we're discussing Immigration, but this is almost more of an editorial video that I wanted to bring up because I have seen recently, I was passing through an Immigration check point, pretty close to the time of this video actually, and I noticed that there was a foreigner here in Bangkok that was being a little bit difficult with an Immigration Officer. I won't go so far as to say they were totally out of line but I noticed they were rather standoffish etc. and it sort of got me thinking. I don't know anybody that's out of line with Immigration Officers in the United States. I've never really even heard of it. I'm sure it's happened. I'm sure that there are people that are very difficult to deal with that US Customs and Border Protection has to deal with but as a practical matter, foreign nationals going into the United States understand that passing through Immigration is an important thing. I don't really understand why that is not necessarily the case out in this part of the world here in Southeast Asia. I am not going to say it happens often but I've seen it happen more than once, more than twice even. People basically being rude to Immigration Officers at an Immigration checkpoint and I often say to myself, "you do understand you're the foreigner. This Immigration Officer can just turn you away so your rudeness, really I don't know what the point is!"  

I bring this up because I saw an article the other day. It was on, it was published February 6th, 2018.  The Title is, “Dozens of Arrivals Deported for being Rude to Philippine Immigration Officers”, and quoting directly from this article, “The Bureau of Immigration deported and sometimes blacklisted 74 foreigners for being rude to Immigration Officers last year. The BI, that's Bureau of Immigration, the BI says that such disrespectful behavior qualify visitors is being undesirable aliens. The entry and stay of foreigners in the country is not a right but a mere privilege BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said.” 

The reason I bring this up is its not dissimilar in my opinion to either the attitude or the legal posture of immigration matters here in Thailand. What people need to keep in mind is Immigration is a plenary issue. This is not something where you have rights per se. Once admitted perhaps into a given jurisdiction, yes certain legal rights may attach, but when passing through an Immigration Authority, as with Customs as well, there aren’t any rights. You are a foreigner. You're seeking admission. That Immigration Officer can deem again, that you are an “undesirable alien” here in the Kingdom. It can be determined that you're a threat to National Security. There are various things. I  have gone through certain sections of the Immigration Nationality Act here in Thailand and cited specific sections that are often used to just turn people away out right and moreover Immigration Officers don't need a reason really to turn somebody away. They can just simply say, “No, there was something about him. We just didn't feel like this was somebody that needed to be brought in”. Again terms like “undesirable alien”, “threats to safety” etc., that's about all you need. 

So the thing to take away from this video, especially for foreign nationals here in Thailand, politeness counts. I read an editorial the other day and it was somebody who was kind of criticizing the way that Immigration operates but he did point out that he himself was polite when dealing with the Immigration Officers at hand and that was a good tactic. Politeness counts when it comes to dealing with these folks. It is not an easy job to do. You are processing through probably hundreds if not thousands of people in a given day and the other thing is you're not dealing with people at their best. People that are coming in off long haul trans-pacific flights from the United States into Thailand,  you're not dealing with people at their most optimal and for that reason Immigration Officers, yeah I think you know after doing a long shift, probably can become a little bit irritable. 

That being said on the part of the foreigner being admitted into the into the Kingdom or to any jurisdiction for that matter, it's really quite a good idea to maintain one's calm, maintain one's politeness, as failing to do so can result in far worse implications than simply gritting one's teeth, smiling and saying thank you and moving on with your life.